“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
These words are one of the four choices that a deacon or the priest has for the dismissal at Mass. One of the unfortunate things in recent years was that many priests and deacons were making up their own dismissals. These important words of the “dismissal” from which the Mass gets its name – a shortened form of “dismiss” that comes down to us as “Mass” – express the responsibility we have as we leave the sacred liturgy. This is the mission statement the Church gives us as we bear Christ, physically within us, out into the world.
His words challenge us to be active in proclamation and example, or as anyone who frequents school gatherings knows in song form, “Go make a difference, we can make a difference.”
We survived the challenge of the new translation. It was, for me personally, even better than I had expected. I found the words moving, moments of humor as we stumbled a few times over words that were more reactions than recitations, but soon “and with your Spirit” will become automatic. When it does, I hope that doesn’t mean we will forget what we are praying.
The new translation does set a different tone for Mass. Some resist the words because they seem to create a “distance;” that we are speaking to God in a formal way. Yes, I guess we are when we speak to him in public prayer. Throughout the scriptures men and women prayed formally together, and in their private prayers used words that were familiar and intimate, and sometimes angered. Our words for God in the quiet of our hearts or in our times of prayer are as intimate as possible, or should be. When we gather as the Church, the Body of Christ, we join with a greater company in offering praise.
Another important part of the place of the words we pray is that they teach us the faith. We are formed more in our understanding of God and in our faith through the words of the liturgy than anywhere else. We hear these words over and over again, they become part of us, and they form what we believe.
To say that these texts are unfriendly to children is an insult to them. Important things, ask any child, have important words. I had a small child explain to me about photosynthesis the other day. She is much younger than I was when I learned that word. The words children learn in our advancing technological age are not one syllable words. They need to also realize that God has some important words used to describe him and what we believe about him.
So whether we like the words or not, and obviously I like them very much; we are called to pray them as part of the Church. It will be a struggle for some, but we live as the Church, and we pray at Mass as the Church. The challenge now is to know these words, and make them our own. A good place to start is at the end. Take some time next Mass, and parents, even discuss with your children what those words mean as we are being sent forth at the end of Mass. It does mean you can’t leave early one Sunday because the dismissal does come at the very end of Mass. But think what a difference that might make to have a family leave Sunday talking about how they are going to glorify the Lord with their lives.[[In-content Ad]]